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Who will look after the children? Estate Planning can give you peace of mind.

Posted May 9, 2022


Are you traveling abroad this summer and leaving your minor children in the care of family or friends?

As of November 2021, New Jersey amended the Standby Guardianship Law. This change allows for caregivers—parents, custodians or guardians—to temporarily appoint another adult to exercise powers regarding the health, support, education, and maintenance of their children.[1] This appointment is called a “delegation.” Unless renewed, these delegated powers terminate automatically one year after they are granted.

If you are traveling and leaving your children in the care of another adult, or if you are hospitalized or otherwise incapacitated, you can delegate your parental powers temporarily to another person (the “alternate caregiver” or your “attorney-in-fact”).

This process does not require court intervention. This is different from a standby guardianship which requires an application before the court which can be costly and time-intensive. Instead, with one visit to our office, you can sign a document called a “Power of Attorney and Delegation of Authority Over Minor Children” (“Delegation of Authority”).

A Delegation of Authority is customizable to your family’s needs. You can specify the scope of the alternate caregiver’s powers (“delegable powers”) and the activating event (“triggering events”) which empowers the attorney-in-fact to assume the duties of the office.[2]


Examples of delegable powers include the right to:

-give or withhold medical and dental treatment;

-enroll the children in school or camp;

-inspect and obtain copies of the children’s records;

-attend school related activities and other related children’s activities; and

-give or withhold any consent or waiver with respect to school and camp activities.


Examples of triggering events:

-execution of the Delegation of Authority—which can be used when traveling and leaving children in the care of another;

-attending physician concludes that the parent, custodian or guardian is incapacitated, and thus unable to care for the children;

-attending physician concludes that the parent, custodian or guardian is physically debilitated, and thus unable to care for the children;

-parent, custodian or guardian is detained in immigration detention, removed, or deported;

-parent, custodian or guardian is incarcerated based on criminal charges, including pending charges, or conviction;

-parent, custodian or guardian is deployed in military service; or

-parent’s, custodian’s or guardian’s death, if the parent, custodian or guardian has not made permanent care arrangements for their children.


Again, the Delegation of Authority is not permanent; it is only effective for one year from its execution. It can be renewed for additional one-year periods by signing a new Delegation of Authority. In emergency circumstances, where it is impossible for you to renew the Delegation of Authority, it may be extended for an additional six months.[3]

One of the most important aspects of a well-planned estate is to plan for the unexpected, such as a serious and debilitating health condition, either through a traumatic accident or from an illness. If you are a parent or caregiver of minor children, you should consider incorporating a Delegation of Authority into your estate plan.

Estate planning can avoid conflicts before they arise. Not everyone takes the necessary steps in estate planning. Without the guidance of an experienced New Jersey estate planning attorney, mistakes sadly occur all too often. Contact the attorneys at Foss, San Filippo & Milne, LLC at (732) 741-2525 or visit our website at



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[1] N.J. Stat. Ann. § 3B:12-39.

[2] N.J. Stat. Ann. § 3B:12-39.

[3] N.J. Stat. Ann. § 3B:12-39(b).